[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Conference Committee for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), today announced the final bill text of the NDAA includes a number of provisions he advocated for to support our national security and invest in Connecticut’s defense manufacturing community.
“As a member of the conference committee for this critical defense bill, I am gratified that it will help protect our national security and bring jobs to Connecticut,” Blumenthal said. “This authorization legislation supports crucial programs that enhance our national security and our state economy. Producing more helicopters, submarines, and joint strike fighter engines in Connecticut means stronger national defense and more workforce opportunities for Connecticut’s manufacturers and skilled employees.”
The following list includes provisions Blumenthal championed that will boost jobs and support critical industries with defense contracts in Connecticut, and were included in the final bill:
Investing in Connecticut’s Submarine Industrial Base: Blumenthal worked to secure over $5 billion for two Virginia Class submarines, including an additional $85 million in advance procurement above the President’s request for long lead items for the Virginia Payload Module that will be built on Virginia Class submarines staring in FY2019. Blumenthal also worked to secure $1.9 billion for Ohio Replacement Program submarines. Ohio Class – ballistic missile submarines that are particularly valuable because they are the leg of the nuclear triad most likely to survive nuclear conflict – will soon begin to retire. Electric Boat has been selected as the Navy’s prime contractor to build the twelve replacement submarines. Senator Blumenthal is also working hard to ensure funding for the Ohio Class Replacement Program is included in the defense appropriations process. In addition, the NDAAA authorizes multiyear procurement authority for critical components to support continuous production of the common missile compartment for the Ohio Replacement Program. Also included in the final NDAA is a resolution Blumenthal authored commemorating Connecticut’s Submarine Century, which passed the Senate earlier this year. For years to come, the talented men and women of the submarine industrial base, particularly at Electric Boat, will carry a heavy workload, keeping good-paying, high-skilled jobs right here in Connecticut.
Funding the Future of the F-35: Connecticut’s Pratt and Whitney is the sole engine-maker for F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. This year’s defense authorization bill includes over $8 billion in procurement funding for 63 Joint Strike Fighters across the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, and fully meets the President’s budget request.
Ensuring Robust Production of Helicopters: Blumenthal fought for robust funding in the NDAA for Sikorsky helicopters – including the UH-60M Black Hawk, CH-53K King Stallion, and MH-60R Seahawk. Blumenthal secured funding that met the President’s budget request for $929.3 million for 36 Black Hawks, as well as secured authorization for the ninth multiyear procurement authority for Black Hawks that allows the Secretary of the Army to buy up to 268 Black Hawks over FY17 – FY21. In addition, Senator Blumenthal secured the President’s request for $437 million for the first year of procurement funding for two Marine Corps’ new heavy-lift CH-53K helicopters. Also funded in the NDAA is $53.2 million for the MH-60R Naval Hawk helicopter which will finish production the coming fiscal year.
Fighting to Buy American Products: For more than a decade, the DoD has supplied the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) with Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters, but ongoing sanctions resulting from Russian aggression have beleaguered the program and halted the flow of aircraft, parts, and supplies. Blumenthal ensured $264 million to procure and modernize 53 of a planned 159 UH-60A Black Hawks from the U.S. Army to replace the Mi-17 helicopters was included in the bill. The Army will divest UH-60As to make room for new UH-60Ms made in Stratford, Connecticut. Blumenthal has long advocated for this change, most recently he sent a letter to the DoD in July urging the Department to develop a plan to field an American alternative to the Mi-17 helicopters.
Supporting the Connecticut National Guard: Blumenthal secured $6.3 million in military construction funding for the Small Air Terminal at Bradley International Airport for the Connecticut National Guard. This funding will allow the 103rd Airlift Wing to have the facilities they need to support their recent conversion to the C-130 mission. It will consolidate several Logistics Readiness Squadron functions into one facility, conveniently located adjacent to the flight line to support the new C-130 mission.
Providing Opportunity for Aerospace Propulsion: Blumenthal fought to ensure an additional $5 million above the President’s request for aerospace propulsion research for next generation aircraft was funded. United Technologies Aerospace Systems can compete for this funding that can be used for researching and developing high efficiency heat exchangers to help regulate temperatures of critical next-generation engines, including those made by Pratt and Whitney.